L-1 visas allow a foreign worker of a multinational company to be transferred from the foreign company to the U.S. company. The foreign worker must be employed in an executive/managerial (L-1A) or specialized knowledge (L-1B) capacity. The L-1A visa may be obtained for a maximum duration of seven years and the L-1B for up to five years. In order to qualify, the foreign worker must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Within the last three years, the foreign worker was employed abroad by the company for at least one continuous year;
- The foreign worker is coming to the U.S. to continue providing services to this same employer or a parent, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate;
- The foreign worker’s position abroad was executive or managerial (L-1A) or the foreign national performed a job requiring specialized knowledge (L-1B); and
- The sponsored worker is coming to the U.S. to fill an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge position.
A foreign worker who is coming to open a new office in the U.S. will only be given an initial period of stay for one year. At the end of the year, they must prove that the U.S. company has been actively (and, hopefully profitably) engaged in business in order to obtain an extension.
On the permanent visa side, there is a similar category for multinational managers and executives to receive permanent residency.
To speak with an immigration attorney about L-1 intra-company transferee visas for managers and specialized knowledge workers contact Grossman Young & Hammond.